* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

I don't care what your eyeballs tell you. Alternative fact is, we've locked up your files

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"There has to be another element to this type of fraud, some way in which the attackers cause the mark to believe that something actually happened"

If this happened when the great Windows 10 mugging was in progress that might have been enough. Alternatively they have a real virus which renames everything with a .crypto suffix.

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Re: If I had to make an educated guess...

"Either that or the IT department was crap"

Or in another country, assuming it existed at all.

'It will go wrong. There's no question of time... on safety or security side'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @various

"Arguably doesn't even need a trustworthy compiler, certainly doesn't need a complex untestable unprovable compiler."

Unless the H/W executes Forth directly (in which case you simply push the problem down a level) it needs an interpreter. What's the interpreter written in and how's it compiled if it's in a higher level language?

However, if the code inspection reveals a hard-coded root password you can stop right there and throw the whole lot out.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @sealand: common mode errors

"it can help to have very independent people writing the code"

Management really hate very independent people.

Oh, the things Vim could teach Silicon Valley's code slingers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Vim's biggest rival, GNU Emacs,"

No. Vim's real rival is the original vi. Many years ago I took my first look at vim. I often used vi to quickly doctor files from the MS world for use in Unix systems by removing the trailing CRs from line ends. One day I found myself using vim & discovered it had been configured to hide the CRs. If it could be configured to do that maybe it could be configured to hide other stuff? I felt it wasn't trustworthy. Since then I've avoided vim if vi (or nvi) is available.

In the light of the what the article says it's worth recalling a flame comment I once read in favour of vim based on how rarely vi was updated.

UK.gov still drowning in legacy tech because no one's boarding Blighty's £700m data centre Ark

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"Unfortunately, at some point it will break."

Why? Do the bearings wear out because of all the iterations of loops? Do they start out with a finite stack of branches to take at branch points and finally run out? Or does some unskilled maintainer, who shouldn't have been let near break it by trying to fix what wasn't broken?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Legacy stuff isn't the problem.

There are several separate issues here.

One is that the system is currently earning money. Where's the pay for all those dev[op]s working on shiny new systems coming from? Probably from that despised legacy system.

Then there's the age of the system and its state. There are a couple of assumptions being made. One is that it's old and the second is that, simply because it's old it's ill-maintained. Neither is necessarily true.

For one thing there was an article on here a little while ago ( https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/16/online_graze_in_reverse ) about one relatively new business deciding its whizzy web-based system no longer suits and has to be replaced. This isn't stuff conceived in COBOL on a 360 but it's still legacy.

It's also by no means certain that something that was first put together years ago hasn't been maintained properly in the interim. If it's running the main line of business there's every reason to make sure its fit for purpose. If it isn't then its maintainers haven't been doing their jobs right.

The problem with attitudes expressed here, and maybe with legacy systems if they're not well maintained is that new development is seen as important, challenging, rewarding and whatnot, able to adopt the latest buzz word methodologies of agile and devops. Maintenance is just maintenance and, if done right, involves serious thinking about how to graft new stuff in seamlessly and keep documentation up-to-date. Actually it can be more challenging and rewarding if done right but it's apt to be seen as somewhere where those least able to do it well get pushed out of the way. Which is exactly the wrong way to treat what's paying everyone's wages.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


If you've got a difficult to manage installation what could add to your problems? Lifting it up and moving it elsewhere of course.

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Re: Legacy stuff isn't the problem.

"A well known company refers to anything that isn't their software as Legacy, can you guess who."

All of them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Legacy stuff isn't the problem.

"I think you'll find that under the current York Minster are the remains of 2 previous churches plus a roman building."

I think you make Jake's point. The only reason the earlier buildings are known is because the central crossing area was excavated to replace the foundations whilst leaving the building intact.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Legacy stuff isn't the problem.

"Yes, it's a church, not an abbey; nor is it a cathedral."

It was the church of an abbey. As were all the medieval cathedrals.

Biz claims it's reverse-engineered encrypted drone commands

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It sounds useful for keeping airport approaches drone free.

Boffins explain why it takes your Wi-Fi so long to connect

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Generalise much?

"The researchers collected their data from the WiFi Manager Android and iOS app."

So what they're telling us is they wrote a WiFi Manager app that doesn't work very well. Or am I reading it wrong?

Western Union coughs up $586m for turning a blind eye to fraudsters

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No real harm done

Nobody forced to pay back their bonuses or salaries, maybe they were even promoted. No jail time or anything really bad and the shareholders pay the fine.

How Lexmark's patent fight to crush an ink reseller will affect us all

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I wonder how this plays with contract law in the countries in which the cartridges were sold.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Simple idea. I buy it. It's mine. Not yours.

"I'm amazed HP haven't joined them in the law suit."

They're probably still smarting from the backlash of their previous attempt. Give them a year or two to let people forget & they'll be back.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: We're still printing?


SWMBO has just left for the patchwork class she runs. She has taken with her 6 copies of class notes comprising 6 sides of A4 each. In addition there are 6 copies of today's pattern on flimsy paper. What did you expect her to do? Write them out by hand and add watercolour to the illustration on the title page?

Stallman's Free Software Foundation says we need a free phone OS

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Re: The problem with anything free and open...

"They care within their own tinnie tiny little communities - but they are the 1% and do not appeal to the other 99. Until they fix that literally nobody in the big wide world will even notice these projects exist."

OK, I get that you're running Windows. It's also clear that you're connecting that to the net. Now go and find the little box that sits between your nice Windows PC and the net. Does that also run Windows? No? What does it run, tucked away in there? It'd guess you're probably running a fair bit of free S/W of one sort or another without even giving it any thought.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Before we get a proper free phone OS.

"As to running things on your phone, a decent notebook PC will do that better, cheaper with the OS of your choice."

It does tend to require very baggy pockets.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Before we get a proper free phone OS.

"I am actually in favour of people rooting their phone and running any software on it they like. Provided they sign a contract that says that if they are responsible for a malware outbreak they will fund the entire cost of cleanup and a brand new phone for anyone else affected."

Why don't the existing phone/phone OS vendors take on that responsibility for their existing products?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A free phone OS

"Free as in speech means that some organisation has to shoulder the administrative and support burdens associated with the OS or every phone manufacturer will have to provide in-house that support or someone somewhere runs an operation that charges the phone manufacturers a licence fee or support fee. Ultimately that's not going to look too different to Android."

An alternative would be a collaborative effort between H/W manufacturers to build a common OS. It would work out cheaper than each building their own. They could actually have done that without needing to get a return by continually leaching on their customers with walled gardens or data slurping if they'd been content with simply getting the return by using it as a vehicle to sell H/W.

So it could have looked different to Android, IOS or Windows. However I suspect that they'd have simply jumped on the bandwagon of selling the H/W and then monetizing the users in one way or another (or in as many ways as they could manage). However, as Google got in first with Android it didn't happen.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "OS X and Windows simply offer far more"

"Free Software needs a generous sugardaddy, willing to spend loads and get nothing but the general feelings of love from the community in return. That's not going to happen."

Actually what free software needs is a route to making money other than from licensing it.

That route actually does exist for general purpose Linux distros: it's adding value via support so the likes of Red Hat & Suse are able to support development in order to have a product that they can sell.

The unfortunate thing as far as phones and tablets are concerned that isn't a workable option. The route chosen there seems to have been monetizing the users. It would have been better if it had been hardware vendors getting together to develop their own OS collaboratively as something to enable them to sell H/W. Unfortunately they gave in to the easier route of signing a contract which lets them have the OS in exchange for access to those users.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Before we get a proper free phone OS.

A phone is just an appliance, where's the need for a "free" ToasterOS or FridgeOS or even SmartTV OS?

Frankly I don't want a ToasterOS or a FridgeOS at all. Come to that I don't want a smart TV either. But as soon as a phone's capabilities get to be equivalent of a general purpose computer it becomes more than just an appliance and it seems to be irresistible to vendors to use those capabilities to monetize the user. I have no desire to be monetized but I would like a phone which has more capabilities than my old Symbian. In short, I'd like a phone that I can trust with at least a basic repertoire of applications that I can also trust and I can't see a non-free OS being trustable. Sadly, for reasons already discussed, it seems unlikely that this is going to happen because it requires commercial vendors to facilitate its being loaded on the phone.

Actually the free smart TV OS is easier: a dumb TV and a PC running something like MythTV on Linux or BSD.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Sadly yes

BTW Why is " Free video editing software" off the list?

Maybe they reckon it's been achieved with Blender.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Isn't he cute?

"What they will also get is no annoying vendor-enhanced user experience"

Sadly that's what they'll not get because this includes all the user-parasitising crap that the vendors see as making them the most money, therefore no vendor is going to sell such a product.

GDS chap: UK.gov is better off on public cloud than its own purpose-built network

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He said the government is "on a journey away from the PSN".

Is it too much to hope for that in a few years time he'll cringe when he remembers saying that?

Make America, wait, what again? US Army may need foreign weapons to keep up

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Fake news!

"German-made 60 Fuchs NBC reconnaissance vehicles, which it rebranded XM-93 Fox"

With a name like XM-93 Fox surely it must be an all-American vehicle. This is just more fake news put about by our enemies - rant - ramble - rant -

Government to sling extra £4.7bn at R&D in bid to Brexit-proof Britain

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Re: This

"Your ROI comes *after* the product is developed when it is marketed and sold."

This is the bit that HMG has traditionally failed to understand. They look in horror at what's been spent and abandon it just at the time they should be getting into production and reaping the rewards. Hence Mage's list of failures in an earlier comment.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"It will be underpinned by a new approach to government, ..."

Uh-oh... that usually means "we have no idea what we are doing currently".

I think it means "we're looking for it with both hands but so far haven't even been able to find our arse".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I doubt it will work.

"Tarrifs higher on parts than finished goods for many years to protect useless to non-existent parts makers."

As far as I know that's still in place as an EU thing. I wonder if that's at our insistence in which case the EU'll probably be able to get rid of it.

You can add in nuclear energy and TSR2.

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Re: Developing skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)

"That's because the pay is piss poor in science"

We need to produce far more STEM graduates. If we don't there's a risk the pay might creep up to something reasonable.

Trumping free trade: Say 'King of Bankruptcy' Ross does end up in charge of US commerce

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Re: Major Flaw

He talked about the 'White Heat of Technology'

Followed by "What's our whitest hot technology project? Cancel it."

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Re: Major Flaw

"how do you get 10s of thousands of qualified semi-conductor and electronic manufacturing plant workers"

How qualified are such workers other then being trained in-house?

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Re: Major Flaw

But since it will be foreign companies they will succumb to the "Buy American Act"

And the existing big US companies will succumb to the "Don't buy American Movement". There's a lot more of the planet outside the US than in it (one of the disadvantages of living in a large country may be that you don't notice that) which means that the multinationals risk losing out on a large market. They might start to think the unthinkable: moving nevertheless out of the US except for a small subsidiary to service that particular market.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Same idiocy regardless of location

"This will make businesses around the world more competitive compared to american companies."

And also outside the TLAs' snooperage.

Bane of Silicon Valley patents sets its sights on Rackspace and NetApp

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Bonanza is coming to an end

Also http://www.computerworld.com/article/3153924/technology-law-regulation/a-potentially-fatal-blow-against-patent-trolls.html

IT team sent dirt file to Police as they all bailed from abusive workplace

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Not a great surprise

"@ Doctor Syntax. I would disgree if only to say it gives you some protection while you get your FU money,"

Note the "IME" at the start of the post. It was a total waste of money paid to a union which did absolutely nothing for any of its members at my establishment and ended up with the official who came to visit us getting a very rough ride in a meeting.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Not a great surprise

"Also pay a few quid a month and join a decent sized Union"

IME a total waste of good money. Put it in the FU fund instead.

One BEEELLION dollars: Apple sues Qualcomm, one of its chip designers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the enormity and value of the technology we have invented"

Was "enormity" really what they meant?

Chevy Bolt electric car came alive, reversed into my workbench, says stunned bloke

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Re: Chevy and Trash

"The Ford GT40 is about the best I can think of."

Produced in Slough.

CIA boss: Make America (a) great (big database of surveillance on citizens, foreigners) again!

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I'm sure the ECJ is going to find this a very informative statement when it considers the Privacy Figleaf.

Rap for crap WhatsApp trap flap: Yack yack app claptrap slapped

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One consequence of condemning the report is that it might in future make them less likely to report a more serious issue.

Seven pet h8s: Verity is sorely vexed

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Re: I started laughing at the innocent youngster that wrote this article

"good old days that never existed"

When you look carefully, they never did whatever the context.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"a forthcoming BBC puppet programme for the under-fives TheDonaldTrumpton."


The rise, fall, and rise (again) of Microsoft's killer People feature

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Re: People Killer

I read it as killer people - they were sending out death squads to visit Windows refuseniks.

Lords slam 'untrammelled' data sharing powers in Digital Economy Bill

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Re: Yeah

"Mibby I'm missing something"

Yes. It's the Digital Economy Bill. It's not yet passed into law. Had it been it would have been an Act.

This is the stage for them to raise their concerns. IoW they're doing just what you want them to do.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"That used to be the case before Blair started filling it ex-MPs that were past their sell by date."

It wasn't Blair who started that. It's been the case from way back.

What I'd like to see would be ex officio membership for the heads of a few specific bodies such as the Royal Society, the various chartered professional institutes, Royal Colleges in the medical professions etc.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

One of the advantages of having the HoL: it contains people who had real jobs before they became members and arrived with a clue. In fact with quite a lot of clues career politicians lack.

Yet another committee gives UK.gov a lashing for digital strategy delay

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"yeah, thats just not how government works"

Actually both models apply. People on the ground have ideas that could be useful, some happen, many get shelved because getting the funding takes longer than losing the will to live. In the meantime vast amounts get spent doing nothing, or at least, doing nothing useful.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Among other things it is expected to include a plan for the Government Digital Service, which was awarded £450m in November 2015 but still has no road map for how that cash should be spent."

This seems extremely unlikely given that a real plan works in exactly the opposite direction:

We need {whatever}

Work out what it will cost

Ask for money

(Plan usually stops at this point).

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